Food & Drink

Like a Local: How to Order Coffee in Italy

By on October 17, 2012

Savini, Milan, ItalyFor those who are passionate about coffee, it doesn’t get any better than in Italy, where modern coffee culture was born. It’s part of everyday life in Italy and should be experienced by all travelers. Coffee in Italy is an art because like a fine painting, each barista carefully crafts each drink. The process is more man than machine. Blending, roasting and extraction are all carefully executed. For the traveler, there are a few rules to follow in order to enjoy the best coffee experience in Italy.

  1.  Where to drink coffee: You can have coffee in a variety of places, but in Italy, the most common is a bar or café. In the morning and daytime, bars are simple establishments with simple food, drinks and even gelato if your lucky. They are the center of local social life and a great place to meet locals.
  2. Choose your location wisely: Having your coffee inside at the counter top bar is often cheaper than sitting outside at a picturesque table. By law, all prices in Italy must posted and they are usually posted…at the bar. If you choose to sit at the table, remember you are paying a premium for the scenery and ambiance. The table will be yours for as long as you like. The waiter will not rush you so sit back, relax and enjoy.
  3. How to Order Coffee: Think simply. If you are ordering at the bar, do it quickly and confidently as you will be competing with locals for counter space. You will not be asked about flavorings or given a choice of milk. Un café is an espresso. A macchiato is an espresso stained with a bit of milky foam. A cappuccino is an espresso with steamed milk and foam. Remember, most Italians do not order a cappuccinos after lunch. A tell-tale tourist mistake is to order a cappuccino anytime after lunch. A cafe latté is an espresso with a lot of hot milk.

Enjoy your coffee and take it the way it’s served by expert craftsmen who specialize in the art of coffee. The process is much more simple than in North America. When ordering with confidence, having a coffee can become another enjoyable experience

Where to enjoy superb coffee in Italy:

Ristorante Milano Savini, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Milan. Serving coffee since 1884. Lumineries such as Guiseppi Verdi, Puccini, Toscanini, Maria Callas & Grace Kelly counted on Savini for good coffee.

Antico Caffe Greco, Via de Condotti, near Spaninsh Steps, Rome.The oldest bar in Rome and they still serve bloody good coffee. Founded in 1760. Pay at the bar first, then order from the barista. Wooden bar, frescoed walls, bow tied baristas and brilliant coffee.


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Angel Castellanos
Pasadena, CA

I'm a US based travel expert and spend my time teaching people how to travel well, smart and often. I'm passionate about travel and helping people save time & money. This blog, or travel lounge, is a collection of my practical travel advice and experiences from traveling 8-10 weeks internationally each year. I believe that travel has never been easier and that everyone can achieve their travel dreams. Happy Travels!


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